EquAir has become the first Latin American startup to launch commercial operations in 2022 after receiving its air operator’s certificate from the Ecuadorian Civil Aviation General Directorate earlier this month.
The carrier operated its maiden service on Jan. 10, connecting Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International (UIO) with Guayaquil (GYE). The airline intends to offer up to 40 flights per week between Quito and Guayaquil, as well as flying to Baltra (GPS) and San Cristobal (SCY) on the Galapagos Islands.
CEO Gabriela Sommerfeld said the carrier hopes to generate new jobs and enhance connectivity, thereby increasing the competitiveness of Ecuador.
EquAir currently has two Boeing 737-700s in its fleet and will provide competition in the country’s domestic market for LATAM Airlines Group, Avianca and Aeroregional.
According to figures provided by OAG Schedules Analyser for the week commencing Jan. 10, LATAM has a 50% share of all domestic capacity on offer and Avianca has a 39% share. Aeroregional’s share is about 6.2%, while KLM, Air Europa and Plus Ultra Lineas Aereas make up the remainder.
The launch of EquAir comes ahead of fellow Ecuadorian startup Ecuatoriana Airlines, which hopes to begin flying during the first quarter of 2022. Speaking to Routes in June 2021, Ecuatoriana CEO Eduardo Delgado said the airline initially plans to serve six domestic destinations, including Cuenca, Loja and Manta.
“Further down the line we plan to add flights to the Galapagos Islands and then start looking at transborder routes to Peru and Colombia,” he said. “Longer international flights will come later. However, the domestic market will be our main focus for the first two years at least, primarily from Quito.”
In November, Ecuatoriana signed an agreement with ACC Aviation for the acquisition of three De Havilland Dash 8-400s.